Four years ago, Spotify originated a program called Sound Up to amplify women-of-color podcasters in the U.K. and arm them with the skills to create their own podcasts. That program transformed into an annual opportunity with a presence in 12 markets—Japan, Italy, the U.S., U.S. LatinX, India, Mexico, Australia, Sweden, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Argentina—and even prompted a new U.S. iteration geared toward creating high-quality content and co-listening experiences for kids and families.
Over the course of each four-week immersive experience (some in person, some virtual), the participants hone their storytelling skills, get more experience in audio production, and enjoy the chance to workshop their ideas. They walk away with educational resources, technical support, and pivotal relationships with fellow podcasters. Plus, after the session ends, the participants continue to receive year-round support from Spotify as they create professional pilots of their ideas, which have a chance to become a Spotify Original.
Ever since, Sound Up alumni have brought new, innovative shows to Spotify—Dope Labs, Search Engine Sex, and FOGO: Fear of Going Outside are just a few that have entertained and informed listeners. Get to know the four newest shows—and two returning podcasts—from Sound Up alumni.
The Newest Sound Up Shows
Lyssna Tjejer — Roba Kadhem (Sound Up Sweden 2020)
Directly from Malmö, Sweden, Roba Kadhem and her friends invite us to a fast-paced podcast with the craziest gossip from Pink Room, Scandinavia’s largest Facebook group for young women. In Lyssna Tjejer (Listen Girls) they discuss current topics, delve into crazy Facebook threads, test things, and learn things—while saying exactly what they think of it all! A filterless, entertaining, and engaging podcast for all women, you won’t want to miss Lyssna Tjejer.
Kärleks Haverier — Aida Paridad (Sound Up Sweden 2020)
Like an odyssey dedicated to everything that can and has gone really bad in relationships, Kärleks Haverier, or “Love Crashes,” dives deep into the equally fantastic and terrible subject of love. With the help of research and popular culture, Aida Paridad analyzes her friends’ misfortunes to understand how society, history, and the present affect Stockholmers in their relationship building. Let yourself be guided by a safe and slightly manic hand into the jungle of dating, relationships, and . . . love affairs!
People exhibit disgusting habits, sick behaviors, and worthless personalities all the time. But is that reason enough to send them to a desert island? Fatima Hellgren Camara says yes.
In the podcast Välkommen till Ön, or “Welcome to the Island,” hear host Fatima, a happy cynic, and her sidekick, Olle, talk about troubling people and their habits and who ultimately deserves a place on a desert island, far away from the rest of us. Välkommen till Ön is a safe haven for anyone who bites their lip when people say “I really love true crime” and those who have clenched their fists in their pockets when someone on the bus has talked on the phone on speaker! Those looking for beautiful contempt can find it here.
Looking for Esther — Esther Robertson (Sound Up UK 2019)
Looking for Esther is a Spotify Original podcast that follows Esther Robertson’s journey to piece together her past and her identity. Esther was adopted at birth and had three different names before she turned three, and this podcast is a powerful and personal memoir of her real-time search for answers, memories, and her birth mother. You can read the full For the Record interview with Esther here.
Beloved Shows With New Seasons
Masala Podcast — Sangeeta Pillai (Sound Up UK 2018)
Season four of the fiercely feminist Masala Podcast returns with Sangeeta Pillai chatting with international comedian and TikTok star Zarna Garg. Zarna describes herself as an Indian immigrant wife, mom, lawyer, screenwriter, producer, stand-up comedian, and overbearing Indian auntie. In this episode, the hosts explore how womxn need to be valued (and paid!) for their time and efforts. They also discuss how South Asian women can really own their own voices. Masala Podcast is a Spotify Original podcast and was the winner of the British Podcast Awards for 2020 and 2021.
You Heard Me Write — Kacie Willis (Sound Up US 2019)
Treat your ears to 30 original pieces of prose, music, and sound design never heard before. Season 2 of You Heard Me Write features artists collaborating on a multimedia group project without having any knowledge about the identities of their counterparts. Only after the project’s completion are the artists introduced to one another in a salon-style roundtable discussion. There they explore the roles of creativity and anonymity and the power of connection among people from different walks of life. It’s hosted by Sound Up alum Kacie Willis, and you can read the full For the Record interview with Kacie from the launch of season 1 here.
Like what you hear? Stay tuned—there’s always new Sound Up shows coming to Spotify.